EDITORIAL: Obama’s immigration back door

The federal government has become the enemy of the law

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The Obama administration’s way to deal with the problem of illegal immigration is to declare it legal. This is the upshot of an 11-page memo from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) about “Administrative alternatives to comprehensive immigration reform.” As the title suggests, it is a compendium of backdoor measures the executive branch claims it can take without having to deal with pesky things like congressional authorization.

The Obama administration is seeking to “reduce the threat of removal” for “individuals present in the United States without authorization,” employing the latest euphemism for illegal aliens. The fact that the government considers removal of people who have crossed the border illegally a “threat” is noteworthy; USCIS apparently considers its statutory obligation to take action against illegal immigration more of a menace than the outlaw migrants themselves.

The memo goes into great detail regarding the numerous ways USCIS could “legally” keep illegals inside the country, including “parole in place,” “notices to appear” and “deferred action.” Such actions are usually employed on a case-by-case basis, not en masse. “Deferred action” - or simply not doing anything, as the name suggests - has gained the most attention, since the memo states it is “theoretically possible to grant deferred action to an unrestricted number of unlawfully present individuals” and that this may be “extended indefinitely.” However, bureaucrats also suggest that the use of deferred action on this scale “would likely be controversial.” That’s an understatement.

The Department of Homeland Security maintains that the suggestions in the memo have not yet been adopted as policy, and that “nobody should mistake deliberation and exchange of ideas for final decisions.” DHS also stated that the department “will not grant deferred action or humanitarian parole to the nation’s entire illegal-immigrant population.” Given the Obama administration’s fondness for abusing the English language to conceal its true intentions, the promise not to parole the “entire” illegal-immigrant population should read literally; if they leave a few out of the mix, they can claim to have kept their word.

The question is not whether government can implement the myriad suggestions in the memo, but rather why President Obama is going to such extraordinary and unprecedented lengths to protect millions of people who are in violation of federal law. Instead of searching for obscure ways to keep illegals in the country, USCIS should be making plans to get them out. What part of “illegal alien” or “present without authorization” don’t they understand?

With federal, state and local governments facing financial meltdown, the unemployment rate creeping ever higher, the Mexican army engaging in large-scale firefights with drug-gang militias, and parts of American border states becoming no-go areas, Mr. Obama needs to show a different kind of leadership on this issue. But rather than securing the border by enforcing the law, Mr. Obama is suing states that try to ameliorate the problem Washington is making worse. Pinal County, Ariz., Sheriff Paul Babeu said yesterday, “Our own government has become our enemy.” This memo proves his case.

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